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Environment

While the contents of a diaper could easily be considered an environmental hazard by many, disposable diapers themselves pose a more significant problem for the environment. According to the EPA, the average baby will work their way through 8,000 of them before the underwear makes its way to landfill, where it takes centuries to break down. In an effort to reduce the problem, scientists at Mexico's Autonomous Metropolitan University, Azcapotzalco (UAM-A), have turned used diapers to the task of growing mushrooms. Read More
The problem with nuclear waste is that it needs to be stored for many thousands of years before it’s safe, which is a tricky commitment for even the most stable civilization. To make this situation a bit more manageable, Hitachi, in partnership with MIT, the University of Michigan, and the University of California, Berkeley, is working on new reactor designs that use transuranic nuclear waste for fuel; leaving behind only short-lived radioactive elements. Read More
Cashmere is a fine quality wool whose delicate nature generally means a trip to the dry cleaner is required to deal with any stains on an article of clothing made from the material. But now researchers at City University of Hong Kong (CityU) has developed a self-cleaning coating made up of nanoparticles that removes stains from cashmere by exposing the garment to light. Read More
There may soon be a new use for discarded tires ... besides turning them into mattresses for cows, that is. Researchers from the US Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory have devised a method of harvesting the carbon black from them, and using it to make anodes for better-performing lithium-ion batteries. Read More
Using a tethered airship floating high up amongst the clouds, the Air HES concept claims to yield both clean water and electricity by harvesting and condensing water vapor which it uses to spin up an electric turbine generator to create power. According to the creators, they have built a prototype to test their theory and have also conducted feasibility studies into upping the scale of their device to produce economically viable levels of water and power. Read More
The sheer density of the rainforests in Australia's far-north creates a slight problem for local conservationists. With incursions by invasive plants posing a threat to the native flora, inaccessibility for people makes it a difficult and time-consuming task to monitor the region. Now researchers from the CSIRO have developed two mini helicopters capable of hunting down the dangerous weeds from the air, significantly reducing the resources needed to preserve local plant life. Read More

If you've ever had to separate different types of plastic for recycling, then you'll know how much it slows down the recycling process. Now, imagine how much harder it is for staff receiving huge amounts of unsorted plastic at municipal recycling plants. New technology developed at Ludwig Maximilians Universitat in Munich, however, identifies plastic types automatically. Read More

If you live in an area where salmon spawn, then summer treats you to a free nature drama as the fish battle against currents, fight through rapids, struggle up tiny streams, and leap up waterfalls to return to the calm pools where they were born. Unfortunately, however intrepid the odd salmon is, they weren't built to take on a 300-ft tall hydroelectric dam. That's why Whooshh Innovations has developed a system that sucks the fish up through a plastic tube and shoots them over obstacles low and tall like so many piscatorial projectiles. Read More
In a new study that may greatly add to our understanding of the drivers behind climate change, researchers from Lund University in Sweden claim to have accurately reconstructed solar activity levels during the last ice age. By analyzing trace elements in ice core samples in Greenland and cave mineral formations in China, the scientists assert that regional climate is more influenced by the sun than previously thought. Read More
The AirEnergy3D is an open source, 3D-printed, portable wind turbine prototype whose creators claim will be able to generate up to 300 W of power. Designed to be easily assembled and disassembled without tools, the device is intended to be compact enough to be transported in a backpack, allowing it to be taken camping or anywhere else that there is a breeze and no access to the electricity grid. Read More
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